Thank you

THROUGH the medium of (officially 5 months old today but 3 years from scatter-gun dream to reality) one Jono Cook has made a load of new friends who share a common bond – KZN10 schoolboy sport and everyday KZN10 life.

It’s been a messy ride. Nothing started is easy. Especially in the early days. Like a toddler learning to walk there are many ups and downs. Like a new mother trying to figure out how to manage the process; a new dad establishing his role in the bonding process.

Other than broad guidelines, it’s stuff that no textbook leer jou – you gotta do it and be it. There’s no other way.


Any given Saturday… skill sets in abundance are to be savoured and enjoyed. is no different. There have been times in the early morning when I have woken desperate to turn over and keep my eyes clamped shut. But, like new parents, that’s not the way.

You’ve got to get up and face all your imperfections, all your weaknesses, look them straight in the eye and say: “Bud, bring it on, I’m going to beat you.

“Bud, you say Why? Cos it matters. You’re not going to push me around. My dreams, my heart, are way bigger than you, bud.”


When the countless hours on the training paddock pay off.


So, in the messiness, in the frustration of the seemingly slow process, the dreams begins to take shape, the never-to-be-achieved ideal at last starts to come real.

In the low moments, I often draw heart from the stories of our great KZN10 schools. They started with an idea; often began in humble surroundings with a handful of boys, a smattering of educators.

Yet: through care, through love, through a steadfast belief in what can be, The 10 of KZN are where they are today; world-class examples of education best-practice.

And, yes, there are pitfalls, there are hiccups, there are sad moments, regrettable instances, but that is what the life-deal is: it’s never the End Game, there’s always something new, be it a new day or a fresh opportunity to make the world a better place.

To add value to our fellow beings; there can be no greater call.


Balance, poise, fleet of foot and sleight of hand. Local derbies are one of the many blue-chip match-ups and moments in the KZN10 stable.


Enough now Jono: Back to your biggest takeaway from a daunting yet memorable 5 months? The people, the parents the Old Boys, their families, the fans, and, most of all, the boys.

It is you who make me face the day.

Newly-minted and long-established friends it’s been a treat, an exhilaration…


Fierce competition begets an uncommon respect. Photo MARTIN ASHWORTH


Each day I wake up like a small boy contemplating his first innings, the aroma of a freshly-cut cricket oval, the unmistakable whiff of a team changing room…

… the frosty winter’s morning ahead of another epic Super Saturday on the Astro and between the poles … I’m living my dream, painfully, slowly, one wincing step at time… But living it, feeling it, seeing it, the unforgettable “How did they do that?” moments.


Ja Boet… Life ain’t for shrinking violets… But as long as your heart stays forever young… you will be OK.


So to all you folk – boys, moms and dads, extended families, Old Boys and more – to all I’ve had the honour of meeting in the course of these fabulous five months –

… a heartfelt thank you for sharing a slice of your lives with me.

So, to all my new friends, so who is Jono?

Like so many of you, it started in the family backyard; 7 David Baxter Road, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg and then 22 John Barker Avenue.


Age-old rivalries in rugby and cricket are catching the wave in more recent KZN10 sports codes.


tennis balls, plastic and then leather soccer balls, hand-me-down cricket bats (remember the intoxicating smell of linseed oil?);

leather rugger balls (remember that delicious dubbin smell?); our own neighbourhood Wanderers (Rudlings/Cooks), Loftus (the Packers);


The moment when the boys like what they see. Photo Martin Ashworth


Yes, our own Rand Stadium at the Rudling household: As an aside, remember the National Football League soccer epics at the Rand Stadium in Jozi?

My homeboys Maritzburg Football Club winning the Castle Cup and Mike “Horse” James – my longtime street neighbour [yeah, my claim to fame;  teenage years I grew up 3 houses from Butch and Elton] lifting that coveted trophy)… yeah ma-aan I could go on.


Down da street… Former SA soccer star Mike James with sons Elton and Butch.


Anyway, Merchiston Prep School first team rugby (flyhalf… believe it bro…) and captain, first team cricket skipper (top-order batter, opening bowler, slipper next to keeper… yeah, believe it) and first team hockey link and vice-captain.

Then Maritzburg College U13A U14A rugby before a back disease broke my dreams of 3.40pm Goldstones Super Saturdays vs DHS, House and Hilton et al – and a long-yearned-for first XV large white badge on the Red Black and White’s premier school team’s rugga jersey…


You have to be in it to feel it… when a team plan comes together.


Enter the arena hockey – somehow my back didn’t take umbrage like it did rugby.

Four years firsts hockey team, the last as captain; Natal U21 indoor hockey team age 16, Natal Schools 2 years; first XI cricket captain, chairman of the School Council, School Prefect

“Four years first team hockey, really Jono?”

Yip, bud, … an unquenchable thirst and love for schoolboy sport led to an unstoppable sales pitch to mom, dad and the headmaster that Grade 11 needed an action replay…


WHERE FRIENDS ARE MADE: Every KZN10 Old Boy will tell you that where once there were rivals now there are friends – mutual respect borne of a common interest and a shared battle.


Head-on car crashes followed SA Defence U21 hockey and Natal Defence cricket and … then what…?

I could write, loved sport,,, journo the conclusion…

Best training ever from the best sportswriter in SA, John Bishop, at The Witness, best part of a year at the Western Mail in Cardiff…


Our schools take the time and care to develop the leader in every boy.


Published in every national and regional newspaper and numerous Online and print magazines in SA and overseas; Inf fact online everywhere; Japan and Brazil, India, Argentina, Europe x10… 16 in all on assignment; Hockey World Cup, Proteas, Sharks, Comrades Marathon, Dusi Canoe Marathon… everything except Jukskei (still on my bucket list)…

But last year, 25 years later, something that had been troubling for a while hit me full in the mouthguard… I’d lost the love – and without passion for what you do, the value you add, it’s a slippery slope to mediocre… No one wants to be used tissue paper.


THE SHARED EMOTION… success that has at its genesis countless hours’ training when few are even aware or care that you are there.


Like a KZN midlands lightning bolt it hit me… my KZN 10 Schools… the heroes, friends and foes… My first love… we fell in love in 1972 when my dad first took me to Goldstones… 46 years later I came back home – and properly, only, my Fab 10 – Michaelhouse, Hilton College, Maritzburg College, St Charles College, Kearsney College, Westville, Glenwood, DHS, my later love Clifton College, and Northlands/Beachwood now Northwood.

And so here we are – at not even 20% of where is going… the journey has only just begun.


Classroom, playing field… Our teachers and coaches care.


To my backers: Rich at the incomparable five star Fordoun Hotel Spa & Restaurant ; Rich and Jens of KZN security supremos Titan Technologies ; Brett for world class eye-care specialists Hilliar&Gray ; Team Cell C Dino, Lucienne & Co. ; Arthur of Megaprop the UK Property Specialists; Stuart of Hill Premium Quality Cricket Balls ;  website designer and efficiency extraordinaire Des ;  the incomparable, unfailing support of Shaun of geographic information specialists True North Mapping ; Talton & Team Rockstars – innovators of the shoot-the-lights-out Young Guns Business Programme; my incredible brother Mike Cook who gave – and still gives – hope where there was none; the ahead-of-his-time Keith of CrossPond,’s brand new broadcast partner; so many more of you… I Hope You Know Who You are… I Know Who You Are.

Without you, my dream wouldn’t be real.


There is a school in Africa… Old Boys of the KZN10 spread across the planet don’t let the continents’ ponds sink homecomings to where it all began.


Boys, moms, dads, schools, teachers, coaches, KZN10 school sport fans … to all of you – You Know Who You Are.

Thank you all – and thank you all again.

‘If you’re looking for a miracle to
change your own life and can’t find it…
look for the miracle that brightens someone else’s life –
& within that miracle you will have found your own miracle.’

Jono Cook


It is on the KZN10 playing fields… that schoolmates become friends for life.



JC loves you all


Moments that make the grind so worth it.

Leave a Reply